Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Our Trip to Sikandra : vote for me


Memories of a trip to Sikandra some forty years ago are deeply etched in my mind like an indelible tattoo. I was around 14 years old at that time and we were living in Agra, my parents and my three other siblings.  Holidays from school were spent on short day trips and picnics to various places of interest nearby.  This Sunday it happened to be Sikandra – the final resting place of the grand mughal, Akbar the great.  We hired a Tonga ( a horse driven cart), which was quite common and the carriage of choice in those days. My parents, myself and our very dear friends the Therejas with their 2 kids and Bobby, our 6 month old puppy all piled in to the six seater with baskets full of packed lunches and snacks, and off we went, clip clop to Sikandra.

My mom and myself were not in favor of taking our puppy, but my dad just brushed aside our concerns and said, Bobby will be just fine. I must share with the readers at this point that the two Thereja kids were always up to some mischief, and there was never a dull moment or peace when these brats were around : but being very close friends one had to tolerate them.

We had a fairly enjoyable tonga journey, the weather being  pleasant, the tree lined roads made our trip more beautiful, flowers of variegated colours soothing to the eyes.

We reached Sikandra in good time and enjoyed wandering around the beautiful monument, the mausoleum and tomb of Akbar.   Sightseeing done, we sat down to our picnic lunch under a shady tree, playing with the Bobby and generally having a fun time.  After a while, the senior citizens were found to be happily snoozing, with a cool breeze blowing across the maidan, and we followed suit, with Bobby curled up around my legs.

It was time to get back home, and we all gathered near our Tonga, which was parked on a gradient in that hilly terrain. We arranged all our belongings and reclaimed our respective seats in the Tonga. The little Thereja was sitting in the front seat of the tonga, and the men folk were busy talking with the tonga fellow regarding the trip back.  The restless Thereja boy chose this moment to pulled the Lagan (reins) which the horse understood as a signal to reverse, and it stepped back, plunging us all down the hill at an ever accelerating speed, bumping and jolting uncontrollably with nothing to hold on to except each other.  All of us were flung out of the tonga in one big heap : The Thereja female landed on some thorny bushes , I hit a small outcrop of rock and my mom fell right in the middle, and on top of her rolled the wheels of the carriage and finally the hapless horse came down heavily and lay on my mom's thigh with full force.  Bobby fortunately landed on all fours and terror stricken, ran round and round in circles, yelping to high heaven.

We were all in deep shock as everything happened in a flash : it was so frightening, and for quite some time we lay there dazed not knowing what hit us.

People who witnessed this bizarre scene were shouting, and rushing down to help us. My mom was screaming in mortal agony as the entire weight of the horse was on her thighs, she was already suffering from weak legs due to previous injuries, and now on top of it was this disaster.

The assembled crowd tried to pull the horse from atop my screaming mother but the horse itself was in such a shock it was in no position to budge. With great difficulty, the crowd which had gathered managed to lift the horse and set it aside, and helped my mom get up and carried her up the road.

The tonga was in shambles :  with no alternative mode of transport available in that remote place there was nothing else we could do but pray for divine deliverance.

Meanwhile the tonga fellow, an enterprising soul managed to put back the cart together with help from the onlookers, and also cajoled the hurt and shocked animal to ride again. We all gathered our scattered paraphernalia and climbed on to the tonga rather gingerly.  With dusk falling, it was getting dark very quickly, as we made our way home slowly in utter silence.  We felt sorry for the poor horse, and at the same time were full of admiration for his courage and fortitude to get back to business immediately after such a devastating experience.  We felt like thrashing the little Thereja brat, who escaped unhurt, but it would have been churlish to hold a grudge against such a small child.

Reaching home, my mom was carried up to our abode on the 1st floor and put to bed. Her thighs were all black and blue.  The doctor was called in :  one look at her,  he advised  complete rest for a month, along with pain killers, the versatile Iodex for balm  hot and cold treatment, and of course some TLC.

My mom being a very strong willed and sturdy woman both in mind and body managed to get well after resting for nearly 3 months.  For the rest of her life, my mom suffered off and on with the pain from the injury which would often recur and bother her no end.

That was a nightmare of a trip , none of us can ever forget to this day.
We are grateful to the almighty that no greater tragedy befell us on that day,  and we never fail to thank God for such small mercies.

BTW,  Bobby poor fellow lost one tooth in the melee, and we became ardent fans of Iodex.  The Thereja brat went on to become a brilliant engineer, entrepreneur and inventor of mechanical and electrical doodads which find use in every home today.

Some memories can be nightmares too.

Rama Ananth

This post was written for the Mahindra XUV500 Incredible Stories contest on


  1. You had a really lucky escape....well, not sure to call it an incredible story or not...but, yes some memories can be nightmares too...

  2. My escaping was not incredible, it was my mother's experience and her survival that was incredible.

  3. Anil said:
    Reflections can be both fearsome and satisfying. Satisfying in the end as you mentioned nothing too bad came about and the fellow who was unwittingly instrumental for the chaos blossomed into a brilliant techie.

  4. padmaja said:

    I felt like I was going through the experience, it is probably etched in your mind. You can never forget some vacations like this.

  5. kavita said:
    I wish and pray that you don't have to face something like this ever again.God bless you and your beautiful family.

  6. Rahul Bhatia said:
    Rama this was an interesting read except for the injuries sustained in the mishap! You rightly said that some memories get etched in minds:)

  7. Haddock said:

    That must have been a really disturbing experience.

  8. Rachna said:

    Good luck Rama and this was a vacation that went horribly wrong. This is definitely a very different post because we are so used to associating good memories with a holiday. Must have been quite traumatic and kudos to your mom!

  9. Traveling Hawk said:

    Oh, my! These memories so vividly presented are terrible! Your poor mother! I can imagine her pains and sufferings! Thank God it was not worse! You are right, Ramma. Sometime a simple day, with a great beginning, can become a nightmare...

  10. Cloud Nine saidL

    This is really a nightmare recounted well. I would love to see the Thereja kid;) Nice post, Rama. Good luck with the contest:)

  11. Sarmistha said:
    Indeed fearsome .The nightmare of such unwanted and unexpected incidents etches a strong mark into our mind for a long long time mayebe forever..
    Looking back ,emerging out of such nightmares safely with the help of God is a big console which makes us thankful to God every min of our breathing day.
    Now I understand more know what exactly I mean..

  12. Finally I could re-post all the lost comments for this post.